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Written By:

Jack Bottomley

When it comes to opinions, they don’t get stronger than with David Ayer’s 2016 hit Suicide Squad. In fact, the DCEU in general always seems to draw particularly fierce debates from all sides (much like Star Wars and Doctor Who). So with these two things in mind, it seems curiously hopeful – and rather ironic – at just how much positivity has followed James Gunn’s baddie-filled sequel/essentially a reboot The Suicide Squad (that added determiner makes all the difference!).

We have had Snyder cuts this and studio interference that, but with this film, it all seems to have been a more friendly, passionate, and dare we even say inspiring production. The cynic (pesky blighter that he is) in us dictates that this can’t last, some cruel Mister J-esque punchline has to follow, right? Well, there are many punchlines here but none of which let you in any way down because The Suicide Squad is not just an excellent film… it’s a film and a half.

The movie sees the ruthless Amanda Waller (a terrifyingly excellent Viola Davis) assemble Task Force X for their deadliest assignment yet, as they are dropped off at the island of Corto Maltese to tackle a corrupt government, which has a gigantic threat they may at any time unleash.

Off the back of that silly Twitterstorm in a teacup with Disney, James Gunn here feels freer than he has been since his Troma days, and to that point, The Suicide Squad proudly brings with it the Troma Studios spirit, even featuring an eagle-eyed cameo (one of many) from a certain STARBURST Magazine Hall of Famer. This is a pure unfiltered, uncensored and unchained vision of a director who is relishing using everything at his disposal. “Do not get attached” he warned us, too bloody right! You sit on your seat’s edge throughout, because anyone is fair game here, this truly is a suicide squad film in every way imaginable.

Gunn’s story is a bloody, crazy, hilarious, and heartfelt ’70s war picture intertwined with a very hard R-Rated comic book flick. It’s bold, it’s ballsy and it’s as unpredictable a film to come along in quite some time. Gunn literally rakes around the DC toybox and fills the screen with glorious chaos but more than that an unexpectedly sweet heart. 

His film is an ode to all outcasts, a tribute to the misrepresented, the abused and the neglected, and an Expendables-like story, which drops into the war zone and takes time to re-assess the classifications of monsters and men (animal abusers meet particularly nasty and pathetic ends – as they darn well should), becoming a simple but effective retro caper, which comes with a realistic political sting. 

The script is razor-sharp and constantly laugh out loud, but does not shying away from ugliness or emotion either. And the film really flourishes on that end, as the characters are to die for (so to speak) and we care about their fates, backstories and connections. These unexpected waves of emotion hit you that much deeper, particularly as the film is so knife edge precarious in nature, meaning that all bets are truly off and you are deeply invested. When you are not laughing along with these wild bunch of nutters.

It’s hard to choose a standout because this ensemble cast are all so freaking good, but Sylvester Stallone’s King Shark, David Dastmalchian’s Polka Dot Man, Idris Elba’s Bloodsport, Daniela Melchior’s Ratcatcher 2, and John Cena’s Peacekeeper are all strong standouts (and there are many other scene stealers). Plus, there is a particularly comic-adoring villain (well, they’re all villains technically but y’know) that actually is a rather tragic figure in truth. 

Visually experimental at times and shot with an equally fresh and unique eye, not to mention a thumpingly good soundtrack backing it, it is hard to ask for more. This is just a joyful, heartfelt, and blood-drenched comic book spectacle that does the Squad the utmost justice. At work here is a director with true carte blanche but more importantly a director and team who know full well what they are doing. See it, stay for the credits, don’t spoil anything (this is a very spoilable film) and for the love of God, don’t get too attached!

Jack Bottomley

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